I’ve been washing clothes since I was a kid growing up in Connecticut. The first washing machine I remember was an old wringer type, and my mother warned me and my sister Bertie to keep our fingers away from the wringer. We used to hang the clothes outdoors on a square clothesline contraption that had a pole that stuck in the ground.
Later on we got rid of the old washing machine and got a brand new Bendix that didn’t have any rollers and had a little door in the front. We didn’t get a clothes dryer until much later on.
I’ve washed clothes in many different places and in many different ways. I’ve had conventional washing machines or lived in buildings that had laundry rooms in the basement. I’ve also lugged my clothes out in the street in a grocery cart to the laundromat.
When I spent a month in Europe living out of a carry-on suitcase, I washed my clothes in the hotel bathroom bidet and hung them up in the closet with the doors open to dry.
When I lived in Mexico for awhile, I used to wash everything in a stone tub with a slanted “washboard” that wore the clothes out really fast. Later on, here in Rio de Janeiro, I had a nice blue ceramic washtub and also a small washing machine. I strung a clothesline on the veranda and hanging the clothes there, overlooking a small park with flowering trees, was one of my favorite pastimes.
Now I’m back to washing my clothes in the bidet. When I moved back to Rio in 2008, after a hurried exit from the USA (that’s another story that you’ll find in my upcoming book), I took the first apartment I could get, and there’s no room here for a washing machine, nor is there a veranda. I suppose I could send my laundry out, but I really don’t have many clothes, and I like washing them myself.
My favorite things over the years about doing laundry are the wonderful smell of clothes dried outdoors in the breeze; the satisfying exercise of wringing out hand washing; the fun of picking frozen clothes off the line in winter; meeting new friends at the laundromat; the fluffy feel of warm clothes pulled from the dryer. Ah, the simple things in life!